FitOldDog’s Florida Ironman Race Report

“It’s easier to want what you get, than to get what you want.” Title of Zen Meditation book I lost ages ago.

Florida Ironman Race Report (a brief one, as my race was brief).

It was a tough swim that threw hundreds of athletes out of the race. The one-hour wait in a cold wind in our wetsuits probably took it’s toll. The water, at 67F, felt like a warm bath after that.

My slowest Ironman time, yet. Apparently an achievement at 78, so people tell me!

I had a really enjoyable swim, especially the second loop. I finally worked out how deal with the side current, severe chop, and drifting marker buoys. That was the highlight of my race, but not of my trip.

Florida Ironman Race Report
As you can see, I was pretty happy with the swim, until Nico told me my time was 2:07 – I expected and usually get a 1:15-1:25 time. I immediately realized that this did not bode well for “non-swimmers.” As it turned out, several hundred athletes failed to make the swim cut off. They even had a cut off time for the first loop, which I consider to be unfair as the athletes often pull up their pace later in events. Photo by Nico.

You may be wondering how a DNF (Did Not Finish) could be great? That’s because my recorded statistics, of swim time 2:07 (horrible?) and only reached the mile-35 chip detector (incorrect distance, see below), indicate a failure? This is not the case.

Florida Ironman Race Report

I had a surprise awaiting at mile-70 on the bike. I’d been holding a steady pace against blustery cold headwinds, saving energy for the run. As I approached the turnaround point, I was looking forward to a 42-mile tail wind to regain time. To my surprise, my race chip was pulled by a race official. I then joined ten depressed, fit-looking, athletes, huddled around some trucks near the turnaround. The 70-mile chip detector and a wonderful tailwind were just out of reach.

I was told I’d missed the intermediate cut off. Intermediate cut off? Later I discovered that none of my triathlete friends have heard of this before – me neither.

Boy, those huddled athletes were upset.

See it from their perspective. For a start, they were the ones who survived the swim. From mile 60 to 70 we all battled a strong headwind, holding less than 10 miles an hour. On the other side of the road, dozens of cyclists were flying back towards the race site driven along by that powerful tailwind. Many were not even peddling. A friend of mine told me later that she held over 20 mph for the whole 42-mile trip from there to the bike-run transition.

My only regret was not being able to test my run off the bike.

One young woman came all the way from Guatemala, and this was her first Ironman. She was a runner, and would have gone by loads of athletes on the run. Her slow bike time was due to the strong cold wind and the challenging swim.

OK! Now that irritating fact, and my official Florida Ironman Race Report, is out of the way, here’s what really happened. Due to truncation of my bike ride, I got to enjoy an early dinner with my stepson, Nico, and my little dog, Gizzy, aka Gizmo.

Florida Ironman race report
My support crew: Nico, who works as a firefighter on the north west coast of the USA (Montana, Oregon, Arizona, etc.)

This is what my Ironman Florida race was really all about. As I say in that movie about my abdominal aortic aneurysm, The Creation of FitOldDog, “I race to train, I don’t train to race.”

Ironman training has been saving my life for years, and this is what it’s about for me.

Training for the race, with friends:

Florida Ironman race report
At the finish of the Wilmington Sprint Triathlon, a few weeks ago. Tracey (left) and Maya, great athletes.

Enjoying the trip to the race, taking my time, collecting solar energy for cooking along the way:

Florida Ironman race report
I do enjoy camping on the way to races, only driving a few hours a day. I find interesting places to camp, do short workouts, and meet interesting people, like Steve and Tina, below.

Interesting people along the way:

Florida Ironman race report
I spotted a bunch of huge solar farms in Florida, and I’m interested in climate change. While staying at a small motel on the road, I met this guy, Steve, who installs those solar farms. We had a long chat about the best ecological systems to incorporate into the farm’s “understory.” You can see his company info at Grade Tech Enterprises.

Sugar glider image from Tina:

Florida Ironman race report
While chatting to Tina, who was cleaning the adjacent room, Gizzy wandered toward her. She liked him, so I asked if she had a dog. Turned out Tina had two kids, several snakes, dogs, cats, birds, and a Sugar Glider – that was a new one on me. I looked it up. Some kind of possum. She said it was a rescue. As I said, you meet some interesting people on the road.

Then you are in the race – EXCITING:

Florida Ironman race report
First you go to registration, hoping you have all your ducks in a row. They are very strict about following the rules. Then off to the athlete village to meet old friends, look at the new gear, and generally enjoy the energy of the event.

An inspiring friend of many Ironman races:

Florida Ironman race report
Kurt is in his 80s, still doing full Ironman. He used this exercise to help fight and beat leukemia for over three years, his beautiful wife, Elizabeth, told me. Last year, Kurt had a bike wreck and broke his femur, and here he is, at the Florida Ironman. You can’t keep a good man down. Photo by Elizabeth.

The toughest part of Ironmanis packing the gear bags for the race, then you rack your bike and the die is cast:

Florida Ironman race report
As you rack your bike, the energy of the other athletes is totally infectious. It really is a blast.

Then you do the race (I talked about that already), and break camp for the journey home:

Florida Ironman race report

You plan your next race, of course!



PS Keep moving, whatever you do.

Florida Ironman race report
Grey is muscle, white is fat, clear ring around the central white spot (bone marrow) is the femoral bone. Note the loss of both muscle and bone mass in the sedentary guy.

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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.